Frieze Burn

Linda Yablonsky around Frieze New York week

Left: Artist Nicole Eisenman with W magazine editor in chief Stefano Tonchi and fashion designer–collector Miuccia Prada. Right: Choreographer Michael Clark and Artists Space director Stefan Kalmár.

LET’S FACE IT. When Frieze New York comes to town, everything else happens. It’s not that we can’t find openings, parties, performances, sex, politics, bad manners, and good art—even great art—around here at all times. Only that when this week began, more paths crossed in more ways than they ever do when it’s just us folks, and more often than not they were artists.

Artists Space, in fact, set the tone last Saturday, when it introduced the dapper Lukas Duwenhögger to the scene with “Undoolay,” a fetching retrospective for the German-born, Istanbul-based artist, but his first show in New York. Alas, it also marks the nonprofit’s farewell to its longtime home in SoHo, which it soon will leave for parts yet unknown—probably Brooklyn.

Before you could say Gee whiz, on Sunday the London-based Lisson Gallery ushered its new 8,500-square-foot building into Chelsea with an exhibition of recent works by Carmen Herrera—and none too soon! Though she is one hundred years old (soon to be 101), this is the unjustly neglected Herrera’s solo gallery debut in America. In the fall, the Whitney will present her first major museum show since one at El Museo del Barrio in 1998.

“Carmen made all of these paintings in just the last two years,” marveled dealer Alex Logsdail, who is running the New York operation for his father, Lisson founder Nicholas Logsdail. “She cried,” the younger Logsdail said of the wheelchair-bound artist’s private visit two days earlier. “Because she was so happy.”

Left: Artist Anish Kapoor. Right: Dealer Alex Logsdail.

Small wonder. One could easily think the gallery had been built just for her, so perfectly did its austerity complement the purity of Herrera’s refined, geometric abstractions. One might have expected this necessarily low-rise structure—it’s tucked under the High Line on West Twenty-Fourth Street and runs through to Twenty-Third—to be a long, dark hut, but as built from the ground by architect Marcus Dochantschi’s Studio MDA with Studio Christian Wassmann, the exhibition space is actually cathedral-high and wide, with skylights on either side.

If anyone deserves credit for rescuing Herrera from obscurity, however, it’s Tony Bechara, a close friend and former president of El Museo del Barrio, who in the early 2000s helped bring her to the attention of Metropolitan Museum board chair Daniel Brodsky and his wife Estrellita. They bought three paintings, as did Agnes Gund. “Ella Cisneros bought five,” Bechara said, turning to greet another enthusiast, Iolanda Santos, from Monterrey, Mexico.

Many other people will discover Herrera here for the first time, but not Nigel Prince. Currently director of Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery, it was Prince who introduced Herrera to the UK by including her in a widely praised 2009 show at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. “He gave me my first museum show,” said Ryan Gander, who flew in for the occasion to join nearly all of the fifty other living artists on the Lisson roster, including recent adds Susan Hiller, Joyce Pensato, and John Akomfrah, and the entire Logsdail family. (Youngest son Max is now on board to work with Ai Weiwei.)

All repaired to Cedar Lake for an extravagant (and rather good) dinner, accompanied by the recorded strains of Dvorák’s Symphony no. 9, From the New World, played at earsplitting volume. It’s the most popular symphony of all time, Nicholas Logsdail claimed in remarks that preceded impromptu encomiums from the artists, initiated by performance queen Marina Abramović, with Liu Xiaodong, Anish Kapoor, Rodney Graham, and twenty others following close behind. Each told a personal anecdote that doubled as an affectionate roast.

Left: Artist Goshka Macuga and Paracelso proprietor Luxor Tavella. Right: Artist Marina Abramović and Public Art Fund director Nicholas Baume.

“Alex is the future, the next generation,” said Shirazeh Houshiary. “We’re terrified,” confessed Stanley Whitney and Akomfrah, who spoke together. “Nicholas!” Kapoor called out. “I want to kiss you!” Logsdail, as several artists noted, is hardly the emotive or sentimental sort. “This is a first,” he admitted, while giving in to the buss. “Everything we do is for you,” Alex Logsdail told the artists. “We wouldn’t be here without you.”

As if to spite Monday night’s Met Gala, 260 stylish, if less outrageously dressed, guests who have earned the right to be called bohemian filled the Ukrainian National Home for the annual Friends of Artists Space dinner honoring the founders of Semiotext(e), Sylvere Lotringer and Chris Kraus, and its current editor, Hedi El Kholti.

Here, in this alternative universe—not a $300,000-a-table fund-raiser like the Met’s but a thank-you to supporters—Artists Space director Stefan Kalmár made the gallery’s impending move “to a neighborhood more appropriate for its activities than today’s SoHo.” Meanwhile, he said, Artists Space Books & Talks on Walker Street will stay open.

Books and talk livened up the event, already animated by artists and writers who far outnumbered collectors and dealers, though this being Frieze week, they were nonetheless out in force. The dinner, designed by London’s Arnold & Henderson, served Monk’s Beard to the monk-bearded Michael Stipe, saw Barbara Gladstone dig in with the gold-toothed Michele Lamy, and hosted Irving and Lucy Sandler, who helped found the gallery, progenitor of the Pictures generation, way back in 1972.

Left: Artists Stanley Whitney and John Akomfrah. Right: Semiotext(e) founding editor Sylvere Lotringer.

First up to toast Lotringer was the actor Jim Fletcher, a Semiotexte(e) author who confined his speech to listing favorite Semiotext(e) titles like A Hot Mess and Pornocracy, which he cribbed from notes written out on his palm. The suddenly “it” lesbian poet Eileen Myles jumped in next to toast Kraus, whose novel I Love Dick is soon to be an Amazon TV series penned by Myles’s special friend, Transparent creator Jill Soloway. Writer Veronica Gonzalez Peña wound up the speeches with an affecting appreciation of El Kholti’s liberating pressure to take risks, the binding thread of every Semiotext(e) book. “To think I was once this boy from a small town in Germany reading Baudrillard’s Kool Killer,” said Kalmár at evening’s end. “Tonight was like meeting my heroes.”

This was the aperitif that braced me for the rush of events taking place all over town on Tuesday. In Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Public Art Fund lit up Understanding, a new sign by Martin Creed; at both of her galleries in Chelsea, Gladstone presented what may be Kapoor’s most surprising show so far, including sculptures of viscera inspired by Rembrandt’s paintings of butchered carcasses—“They’re Biblical!” hooted philanthropist Shelby White—and a giant new sculpture made of dirt and resin that Nicholas Logsdail dubbed “the Cloudgate to the ancient world” and that Paula Cooper, passing by from her gallery next door, correctly pegged as the tits of Rhea Silvia, mother of Romulus and Remus.

Back in the present, at Bookmarc in the West Village Francesco Vezzoli signed copies of an extraordinarily elegant catalogue of his career just published by Rizzoli. (Full disclosure: Yours truly wrote one of the essays.) Right here, I had to stop and think through my itinerary. (Despite the absence of an underground to liven up the culture, New York is still the spinning point of the art world.) Should I head to the Upper East Side to catch Ryan McNamara’s Battleground at the Guggenheim? Then I could hop over to the Jewish Museum for its opening of Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx’s garden designs. Or should I continue to the Lower East Side for Josh Kline’s buzzed-about opening at 47 Canal? Or forget all of that and head to the Rolls-Royce of the evening, the Oscar de la Renta– and car company–sponsored Tate Americas Foundation dinner at the IAC building in Chelsea honoring forty artists?

I didn’t have the right designer clothes, or the stamina, so I opted for the New Museum, which was offering a more manageable, and estrogen-powered, presentation of just five exhibitions, each by an artist who happened to be female.

Left: New Museum artistic director Massimiliano Gioni with Giacomo Alemani Gioni. Right: Poet Eileen Myles, artist K8 Hardy, and the Wooster Group’s Kate Valk.

In other words, phalluses were everywhere. At least, they were prominent as the struts on the craggy, “dick-climbing” walls, or “Alps,” that Andra Ursuta constructed to transform the yawning volume of the fourth floor into human-scale rooms featuring chairs that functioned as pedestals for tooth-baring obelisks poked with suggestive holes. More dicks appeared in a retrospective of paintings by Nicole Eisenman. “Is that a man going down on a woman or a woman going down on another woman?” asked dealer and publisher Brendan Dugan, as he stood in front of one painting with Francesco Bonami, who didn’t reply with more than a raised eyebrow.

“Who was that?” asked Eisenman, after being introduced to a diminutive woman on the arm of W magazine editor in chief Stefano Tonchi. “I didn’t catch the name.” It was Miuccia Prada, actually on hand to support Goshka Macuga, whose show for the Prada Foundation continues into June. Here, for her first major exposure in this country, she put up a caustically political installation of large-scale tapestries and cutout sets for her Aby Warburg–inspired play Preparatory Notes for a Chicago Comedy, which include faces belonging to Angela Merkel, Dasha Zhukova, Marcel Duchamp (as Rrose Sélavy), Richard Artwschwager, Andrea Fraser, and more against backdrops copied from the homes of New Museum trustees. “What a lineup!” commented dealer Pilar Corrias.

In all the excitement, I missed Beatriz Santiago Munoz’s show on the fifth floor, but was struck by Cally Spooner’s taming of the unforgiving ground-floor exhibition space. Behind the glassed-in enclosure, a company of dancers trained for the show by rugby players and a film director to stay bound together while chasing an invisible ball. “It’s about aggression and defense, power and submission,” Spooner said.

It may be Frieze week, but how can an art fair ever compete with all of that?

Left: Frieze cofounder Matthew Slotover and Frieze Art Fairs director Victoria Siddall. Right: Dealer Jeffrey Deitch.

Left: Collectors Phil Aarons and Shelley Fox Aarons. Right: Michael Stipe.

Left: Artist Christian Jankowski. Right: Artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Jewish Museum deputy director Jens Hoffman.

Left: Architect Marcus Dochantschi. Right: Artist Andra Ursuta.

Left: Artist Cally Spooner. Right: Artist Richard Wentworth and Jane Wentworth.

Left: Artist Francesco Vezzoli. Right: Artist Sarah Morris.

Left: Artist John Newman. Right: Dealer Daniel Buchholz.

Left: Artists Ken Okiishi and Nick Mauss. Right: Art historians Lucy Sandler and Irving Sandler.

Left: Artists Pascale Berthier and Lewis Ronald. Right: Artists Nicola Tyson and Hanna Liden.

Left: Artists Space president Steven Schindler with Artists Space curator Richard Birkett. Right: Triple Canopy director Peter Russo and artist Matt Keegan.

Left: Authors Colm Tóibín and Chris Kraus. Right: Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg, Metropolitan Museum curator Ian Alteveer and artist Jason Martin.

Left: Centre Pompidou Foundation curator of American art Florence Derrieux. Right: The Glass House deputy director Scott Drevnig.

Left: Collector Iolanda Santos. Right: Artist Gerard Byrne.

Left: Collector Paul Bernstein, writer Lynne Tillman, and Bidoun editor and writer Negar Azimi. Right: Artist Richard Wentworth, Metropolitan Museum head of strategy Laurel Britton, and Metropolitan Museum chief curator of modern and contemporary art Sheena Wagstaff.

Left: Collector Stephanie French and New Museum deputy director Karen Wong. Right: Dealers Hanna Schouwink and Niklas Svennung.

Left: Dealer Curt Marcus and collector Nedda Young. Right: Curator Francesco Bonami and dealer-publisher Brendan Dugan.

Left: Curator Norman Rosenthal. Right: National Gallery curator Lynne Cook.

Left: Curator Pablo León de la Barra. Right: Artist Joe Zucker.

Left: Curators Lauri Firstenberg and Marika Kielland. Right: Dealers Alex Zachary and Carol Greene.

Left: Dealer François Ghebaly and Maria Ghebaly. Right: Kunsthalle Basel president Martin Hatebur and collector Maja Hoffman.

Left: Dealer José Kuri with artist Rirkrit Tiravanija and Ulrike Kasas. Right: Art advisor Lisa Schiff.

Left: Dealer Pilar Corrias. Right: Max Logsdail.

Left: Dealers Chiara Repetto and Andrew Kreps. Right: Choreographer Michael Clark and curator Clarissa Dalrymple.

Left: Landscape designer Sophie Walker and artists Anish Kapoor and Pedro Reyes. Right: Dealer Rachel Lehmann and collector Jean-Pierre Lehmann.

Left: Lisson Gallery curatorial director Greg Hilty. Right: Curator Nicola Vassell.

Left: MCA Chicago associate curator José Esparza and artist Rodrigo Hernández. Right: Studio Museum director Thelma Golden and artist James Casebere.

Left: Metropolitan Museum board chairman Daniel Brodsky with Clarice Oliveira and artist Tony Bechara. Right: Artist Francis Alÿs and Gabriela Gamez.

Left: New Museum director Lisa Phillips and collector Toby Devan Lewis. Right: Artists Susan Hiller and Shirazeh Houshiary.

Left: Semiotext(e) coeditor Hedi El Kholti and author Colm Toíbín. Right: Filmmakers Ronnie Sassoon and James Crump.

Left: Shana Fletcher and actor Jim Fletcher. Right: Artist Justin Beal and dealer Jane Hait.

Left: Shelly Shelly Fremont and Artnews CEO Vincent Fremont. Right: Dealer Nicholas Logsdail and Marina Abramović.

Left: Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery director Nigel Prince and artist Ryan Gander. Right: Artist Spencer Finch with dealer Joanna Thornberry and Art Monthly assistant editor Chris McCormack.

Left: Critic Jerry Saltz. Right: Artists Liu Xiaodong, Anish Kapoor, Marina Abramović, and Rodney Graham.